Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Mystery Reader

Yesterday, I was a Mystery Reader in a fourth-grade classroom at an elementary school in the next town. Mystery Reader Programs are used in a lot of elementary schools. Adults from many different fields are invited into classrooms to just read a story to kids and talk for a while. This class was doing Mystery Readers as part of its observance of Dr. Seuss's Birthday, which is tied to Read Across America Day.

I brought in one of the arcs for A Girl, a Boy, and Three Robbers and read a story from it, so these kids were hearing work from a book that won't be published until this summer. I also explained to them what an advance readers' copy is, showing them a manuscript from my printer and explaining that between the time a story looks like that and looks like a completed book, it goes through a galley stage. (I also had a stack of those.) And, of course, it's galleys that are bound and mailed out to review journals, distributed at professional conferences, yada, yada, yada.

This was the first time I'd done any kind of presentation related to the Hannah and Brandon Stories. As I was reading out loud, I was thinking, Don't they like it? What if they don't like it? What if we're on the second book in this series, and kids don't like them? Maybe I should have stayed home. Did I spend more time putting on makeup and clean clothes than I'm going to spend here in this classroom?

But as soon as I finished, the kids were very vocal about liking what I'd read. They wanted to know if the first book was at their library, and then they wanted to know if I'd read this book or that book that they'd really liked.

I particularly enjoyed that part of the visit, because I don't know a lot of adults who read children's books. I don't have a lot of people I can talk to about the things I read. Talking about books with kids really is an enjoyable experience for me.

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